Here you can find general hints about keeping your ThinkPad in good shape. Look at your models category page for IBMs official maintenance guide for that model.
Lenovo has a website dedicated to servicing ThinkPads, but it only covers the more recent models. For older models check the HMM (Hardware Maintenance Manual) for your ThinkPad.
|Battery Type||NiCd||NiMH||Lithium ion|
Batteries, especially of the modern Li-Ion type, wear out quicker when they hold a large charge or are subject to higher temperatures (see above).
If you use your laptop at a desk, reduce battery wear by maintaining an appropriate charge level. When possible, remove Li-ion batteries while operating from AC as the notebook gets hot enough inside for that to damage the battery in the long run, even if charging is stopped.
On recent ThinkPads, charging thresholds can be configured in the bundled software. Under Linux, this is supported on recent models by the tp_smapi driver (and even without tp_smapi, if you have a dual-boot setup, you can set the thresholds under Windows and they will be remembered as long as you don't power off your machine with AC disconnected; suspend to RAM is OK). Have a look at How to use UltraBay batteries.
If you have spare Li-ion battery packs, store them at 40% charge in a cool place (15C being a recommended temperature, do not let the batteries freeze). If storing inside a refrigerator, beware of humidity, and be careful with cold spots that can easily freeze the battery if anything goes wrong.
The problem with 600 series batteries
ThinkPad 600 power management causes batteries to die before they should. Read more about this on the associated problem page.
Some people experience sudden drops in their batteries capacity. A way to get these batteries back to full capacity is to run the "Battery Rundown" function of IBMs "PC Doctor for DOS". The program is downloadable from IBMs support site as three floppy disk images. Make sure you get the specific version of program made for your ThinkPad model. For those who do not have a floppy, David Smith prepared a bootable CD image (dead link, a copy is also available here) from the T22 floppy images. For newer ThinkPads there is an official bootable CD image. (Although the instructions on this page (as of May 2008) include details for Linux and refer to a CD image, it is actually provided as a Windows executable. On Linux systems, Wine can execute this file and extract the CD image.) Once extracted, you must mount the iso as a loop device (as root) like so:
# mount -o loop 1ety48ww.iso /mnt/floppy
Then copy the .IMA file out of that mounted iso:
# cd /mnt/floppy
# cp 1ETY48WW.IMA /boot
(Or to some other suitable directory.) After this, you can follow the same directions that apply for BIOS upgrades.
I have recently made an interesting discovery, I have an R40 with two main batteries, both of them have aproximately about under 200 cycles and are nowadays 4 years old, projected capacity for R40/R32 main battery is 57Wh, and both my batteries were about 30Wh, then I left my notebook with one of them about a day in a standby mode, as long as it powered off itself because of low battery power, when I turned it on I saw the battery capacity at about 42Wh, then, I did this too for the second battery and I got even about 46Wh, I think I could go even higher with letting the battery discharge completely from 100% in standby, I think this has something to do with low power consumption in standby mode, it may work for you too.
- IBM Support - Extending battery life
- IBM Support - Battery troubleshooting
- IBM Benchmark
- Battery University
- Battery University's info about prolonging lithium ion batteries
- prolonging lithium ion batteries in Buchmanns Battery FAQ
- Electronics Labs information about lithium ion batteries
Cleaning the Display
If you discover markings that look like they originate from the TrackPoint or keyboard, or for information on how to avoid these, look at this page.
Cleaning the Interior
Most ThinkPad models (particularly the A-series and the T-series) tend to accumulate a lot of interior dust which they draw from their ventilation fan. A good dusting every few months is advised. The procedure is as follows.
ThinkPad T4x series
ThinkPad T6x series
Other models (which?)
- Unplug the computer.
- Remove the battery.
- Turn the ThinkPad over and find two to three screws with upraised double-arrows pointing to them.
- Unscrew these screws and set them aside.
- Press the silver area underneath where the battery used to be. The front of the keyboard will pop up.
- Turn the ThinkPad right side up and gently remove the keyboard, pulling it toward you.
- There is one connector between the ThinkPad and the keyboard. Disconnect it, and set the keyboard aside.
- If there is a small black plastic separator under the keyboard, remove it and set it aside.
- The fan should be visible in the upper left. That entire area will likely be dusty. With a can of compressed air (and only with a can of compressed air), dust that area and the surrounding area.
- Replace the small black plastic separator, then reconnect the keyboard.
- Slide the keyboard back into place, then press down on the Fn and right-arrow keys until it pops into place.
- Replace the keyboard screws and battery.
Dealing with spilling accidents
- Don't panic.
- Don't flip or tilt the computer to prevent the liquid from spreading all over the inside of the case.
- Shut down the OS and turn off the power:
- Unplug the computer.
- Remove the battery.
- Tilt the computer so that everything that leaked into the case can flow out the same way.
- Allow the computer to dry before switching it on again.
- For minor accidents this might already be sufficient. For major flooding you should either bring the computer to a dealer who knows how to open and clean it from inside. Or you can read the Hardware Maintenance Manual, open, clean, and dry the computer yourself.
Harddisk Backup / Upgrade
- How to copy a Linux installation
- How to upgrade your Thinkpad hard drive
- How to copy a Windows installation
Recovering BIOS passwords.
Password recovery procedure for IBM ThinkPads using R24RF08 and IBMpass.
(Note: An updated tutorial can always be found HERE)
The IBM ThinkPad uses a small eeprom (ATMEL 24RF08) to store different OEM issues like serial number, UUID, etc. The supervisor password (SVP) is also stored in this eeprom. The 24RF08 is not an ordinary eeprom: it features read protection, which the BIOS uses to lock down access to the eeprom contents. Also, the password is written in a special scan code, which needs to be translated to ASCII to be of any use.
To recover the password, one can use two different programs: R24RF08 (eeprom reader) and IBMpass (password revealer) available at http://www.allservice.ro/store/utils. Diagrams are included in the reader kit.
Models for which R24RF08 and IBMpass are enough to recover the password: 240, 240X, 390E, 390X, 570, 570E, 600e, 600X, 770Z, A20m, A21e, A21m, a22m, A30, A30p, A31, A31p, G40, G41, R30, R31, R32, R40, R50, R51, Transnote, T20, T21, T22, T23, T30, T40, T40p, T41, T41p, T42, T42p, X20, X21, X22, X23, X24, X30, X31, X40, X41, X61.
ThinkPads featuring TPCA technology (i.e. a TPM trusted platform module chip), especially T4x, X3x, X4x, X61 and X61T need the W24RF08 eeprom writer program to complete the password recovery procedure, if the passphrase function is enabled in BIOS setup.
Other models such as the 380XD or 600 use 24C01 or 93C46 eeproms, which can be read without special tools. The method is the same like for the models based on 24RF08, only the software to dump the eeprom is different.
Newer T43/T43p, R52, R60, T60/p, X60 and Z60 ThinkPads can be unlocked using PC8394 programming tools that consist in RPC8394 and WPC8394 (reader and writer for TPM chips). The software is available as well at www.allservice.ro. IBMpass 2.0 works for any TP model without exceptions.
2. Locating the ATMEL 24RF08 eeprom. Soldering.
No need to unsolder the 24RF08 eeprom, just solder 3 wires to SDA, SCL and GND pins of the eeprom. There are two eeprom layouts (see interface schematics described bellow), corresponding to 8 pin or 14 pin eeproms. Locate the eeprom first according to your model (E.g. T20-23 and T30 have the eeprom underneath TP, and can be accessed by removing the RAM modules cover, no need to dismantle the laptop.) and solder the wires using a soldering iron with a fine tip. Also, you can use 0.15 -0.20 mm enamel coated wires or similar small diameter insulated wires. These wires will be connected later to the interface. Tip: You can use clips to connect the wires or you can solder on the PCB traces leading to the eeprom pins. Once again, be careful and double, triple check the soldering if necessary till you are positively sure you have done the right job. In case of applying too much solder, use flux-impregnated copper-braid "desoldering wick" - this works exceptionally well.
3. Choose and build the interface.
Since version 2.0, R24RF08 and W24RF08 (eeprom writer) are compatible with a wide range of eeprom programmers. By default, both programs set the COM port signals to use direct logic level to access I2C bus. We provide here 2 schematics that are relevant for direct logic signals and for inverse logic signals (simple-i2cprog.pdf and driven-i2cprog.pdf). Also, depending of the interface you build, you can invert the logics for SDA-In, SDA-Out, and SCL COM port signals by some command line parameters described later in this document. a) The file simple-i2cprog.pdf contains the schematic diagram of a simple interface (known as SIPROG)based on 2 zeners and 2 resistors. This is a classic, easy to build circuit and works with soldered or unsoldered eeproms. The purpose of the 2 zeners is to convert RS232 levels (+/- 5V) to TTL levels, needed by the eeprom. It uses direct logic signals to I2C eeprom and is powered by the COM port. However, this interface works with in-system eeproms but is dependant on COM port current and eeprom bus impedance. R24RF08 works natively with this circuit, no need to change the lines signals with command line parameters. This circuit works pretty well with almost all ThinkPads series. b) The second interface is described in driven-i2cprog.pdf. The circuit uses MAX 232 as a RS232 to TTL driver and its main purpose is to work with soldered eeproms. The advantage of MAX232 is the TTL outputs that are more reliable and more powerful when work with soldered, in-system eeproms (dependency free from the COM port current). Due of the internal inverters of MAX232 the interface responds to an inverse signal logic level. R24RF08 needs /x, /d, /i switches to be specified in the command line.
What these switches mean: /x - invert serial clock, also known as SCL; /d - invert serial data output, also known as SDA-Out; /i - invert serial data input, also known as SDA-In. All those can be used in any combination to meet any interface specification.
Note that the "standard" serial port programmer probably won't work with a USB-Serial adapter, but requires the full nominal voltage of a hardware serial port. [Example: the A22p's serial port works fine here.]
4. Dump the EEPROM:
Prepare your technician PC by connecting the interface to the COM1 port (donâ€™t connect the wires to eeprom yet). Turn on the ThinkPad and press F1 to enter BIOS Setup. When you are prompted for the password and thereâ€™s no other activity like HDD access or so, connect the wires (GND first!, SDA, SCL) to the corresponding wires from the interface (attached before to COM1) and execute R24RF08:
-for SI-PROG interface (as described in 3.a above): r24rf08.exe <filename.ext>. where filename.ext is the file where eeprom content will be stored. Example: r24rf08 mytp.bin
-for MAX232 driven I2C interface (as described in 3.b above): r24rf08.exe <filename.ext> /x /d /i. where /x /d /i are command line parameters (switches) for this kind of interface. Example: r24rf08 mytp2.bin /x /d /i
Use exactly the instructed switches to avoid possible damages to your eeprom data! The file should be created in the same folder. Finally, disconnect the wires (GND last!) and turn off the ThinkPad by pressing on/off switch.
Dump the EEPROM data at least twice, and do a bytewise compare with `cmp`. Both files should be identical, and 1024 bytes long. Otherwise, you probably have a serial port problem.
Note: the r24rf08.exe program automatically sets the serial port parameters. It also works fine with Wine under Linux - provided that a symlink (com1) exists in the .wine/dos_devices directory, and points to the /dev/ttySX for the actual serial port.
5. Reveal the password.
Now, you have the .bin file but you need to dump in scan code to retrieve the password. IBMpass 2.1 Lite is a free tool that will do the job. Just open the eeprom dump youâ€™ve created before and search for 0x330, 0x340 lines. The password is located on 0x338 (and 0x340 depending on model) in scan code. For 24C01 eeproms the password is located at 0x38, 0x40. If the password won't work for the very first time then your eeprom may use newer IBM scancodes. In this case switch to alternate scan codes to find it. For those who want quick answers the recommended version is IBMpass 1.1. Usage for IBMpass 1.1 (command line only):
ibmpass mytp.bin â€“ use â€œ/aâ€ switch to see in alternate scan code if needed: ibmpass mytp.bin /a
For some old models like 570 or 770Z you need to execute the eeprom patcher first. This will reset the read protection on the password offset. To do that just execute patcher.exe before the reading operation, without rebooting the laptop:
-for SI-PROG: patcher.exe , then immediately r24rf08.exe <filename.ext>
-for Driven-I2C (Max232) you must insert the switches: patcher.exe /x /d /i, then immediately r24rf08.exe <filename.ext> /x /d /i
W24RF08, the writer version, has included the complete APP reset operation you donâ€™t need to use patcher.
Moreover, there are a new encrypting algos used with some new security chips (AT97SC3201, AT97SC3203) that are very secured. The password is not in scancode and in some cases not even in the eeprom. To unlock the machine, the dump should suffer some changes and the eeprom must be reprogrammed using W24RF08. This operation works for all IBM TCG/TCPA secured laptops w/o exceptions.
Remember, use 3 wires from the interface and 3 wires from eeprom! Connect them after your ThinkPad is powered and disconnect them right after you read the content, before you switch off the laptop.
6. Password format
The thinkpad power-on/supervisor passwords are a maximum of 7 characters, and are NOT case-sensitive. The allowed characters are restricted to A-Z, 0-9, semicolon, _, - (and perhaps a few others). If PassPhrase is enabled then the password can be longer than 7 characters. Models like T43/R52/T60/R60/T60/X60/Z60/Z61 need the TPM chip dumped with PC8394 programming tools in order to find password/reset the TCPA lock.